House of Lords approves Health and Social Care Bill – Lord Owen is the last redoubt

From PoliticsHome:

The controversial Health and Social Care Bill has been passed in the House of Lords, with a ditch attempt by Labour peers to delay its progress voted down 269 to 174.

The approval from the Upper Chamber comes after the Speaker earlier granted Labour an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the Risk Register of the NHS reforms.

This afternoon Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham argued that MPs should have the opportunity to debate the Government’s ongoing refusal to publish the register.

Also this afternoon, the House of Lords has voted to reject a delay in the final stages of the Health and Social Care Bill.

Former Labour Cabinet minister and SDP founder Lord Owen had proposed the amendment to delay Third Reading of the Bill until peers can consider the Information Commissioner’s ruling on the NHS risk register. It was rejected by 328 votes to 213.

The risk register debate will take place tomorrow and will last half an hour.

Mr Burnham told the Commons Chamber: “My colleagues and I thought it important that this House has the opportunity of debating this matter too. In just 24 hours time, this House will be asked to agree far-reaching changes to the NHS in England drawn up in large part in the other place, and yet as of now, members find themselves in the highly unsatisfactory position of not being in possession of all relevant information to make a full and considered judgement on whether those changes should be allowed to proceed.”

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  • Richard Dean 19th Mar '12 - 10:20pm

    Thanks for this update. Why would the risk register be important? Anyone who has knowledge of the NHS and the proposals would know the risks anyway.

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Mar '12 - 10:26pm

    Given the 100+ majorities, LD peers must have voted pretty solidly in favour. Unsurprising but thoroughly depressing.

  • Fran

    Everyone voted with the Government – more than 70 including, when she feels like it and has come off her fence, Baroness Williams

    See the following page for details

    One LD Lord defied the whip – good old Tony Greaves – well played sir if you are reading.

    I found some of the debate depressing, especially on the risk register. Owen was not on his best form until the end of the closing speech.

    The pro-Government argument was:

    i. We don’t like giving information (led by the Permanent and Cabinet secretaries)
    ii. The information is out of date anyway

    There was no way the LD should have voted to keep information secret when the Information Commissioner has had the decision upheld – imagine if Labour had done it!

  • Am I allowed to say “sell outs” or is that too clichéd?

    Can’t believe all the votes I’ve wasted on this party I barely recognise any more.

  • So with 50% tax about to go and a total lack of any attempt to work with the Professional Bodies is it time to give up on the “Democrat” bit. Only Tony Greaves seems to have listened..

    @Richard Dean
    The Risk register will contain information that is not in the public domain and has been seen only at Government not parliament level. Labour were wrong to hide such information in the past and most Lib Dem MP’s seemed to want open government when they weren’t in it….

  • I am being told there was a lib dem whip???
    If there was (against the wishes of conference) then I think members are owed an explanation.

  • Adam Bernard 19th Mar '12 - 11:19pm

    Alex Marsh: Absolutely. We need what we’ve really never done – to thrash out the terms of engagement with coalition partners. The “act-as-a-single-unanimous-unit” model of cabinet government, developed to help hold single-party-governments together, is hurting the party, hurting trust in Parliament, and hurting the country. Having all the decisions made in the privacy of cabinet and then compelling ministers to pretend to agree is not working as a solution.

  • Foregone Conclusion 20th Mar '12 - 12:39am

    The motion which we ended up with is utterly nonsensical. As an addition to our policy book, it is worthless. I voted the way I did (for deleting the lines, and then for approving the motion as amended) because it seemed the best way to express my disatisfaction with the Bill and to send the clearest possible message. Obviously we didn’t succeed, although the fact that every single speech on the side of the amendment was essentially in favour of killing the bill should have sent a clear enough sign.

  • Dave Eastham 20th Mar '12 - 1:08am

    @ Alex Marsh & Adam Bernard

    Could not agree more with both posts. In the past on other threads, I have questioned this apparent obsession with the Coalition Government trying to behave in classic unitary “one party government mode”. Which it is not and never can be so. Surely as Liberals, we have enough appreciation of previous Coalitions, or indeed David Steel’s grubby little arrangement with Jim Callaghan in the seventies, to have perhaps, hopefully, learned something from history?. Or are we to see history repeating itself?. My personal nightmare is to see replicated the situation where we eventually find the re-emergence of politicians such as Michael Heseltine, who was first elected to Parliament as a “National Liberal” in 1959 (can I see your coupon Sir? – remember them folks?); becoming, far from being the “Ghost of Christmas past”, to becoming very much the “Ghost of Christmas future “ for the Lib Dems. It’s a Coalition, We have a fixed term Parliament. I thought the whole point of that was the room to disagree . (Anyone for AV?). It really is time for the PLDP (including the Peers), to get it’s act back together, and re-establish communications with Planet Lib Dem activists. (Apart from those few who understood the Gateshead resolution). It does not have to be like this. At least most of us outside the Westminster bubble are still on Earth

  • @Dan Falchikov
    “For those wanting to know how peers voted apparently more than 80 Labour ones failed to turn up (along with even more cross benchers) – which suggests they never really wanted to ‘kill the bill’.”

    62 coalition peers failed to turn up (46 Conservative, 16 Lib Dem) – does that suggest they never really wanted to pass the bill?

  • Grammar Police 20th Mar '12 - 7:37am

    @ McClusky
    Quite possibly, yes.

  • Why are any of us bothering to be grass roots activists only to be ignored totally?

  • RebekahMar 20 – 9:02 am…………..Why are any of us bothering to be grass roots activists only to be ignored totally?………

    Just wait! Baronesses Jolly and Tyler have popped-up, after the NHS ‘done deal’, to advocate ‘kissing and making up’. In late 2014 expect Nick Clegg, et al, to explain how well they’ve done on our behalf and how important activists are!

  • “Kiss and make up” – with whom? I don’t think so. I won’t be holding my breath – by 2014 it will be too late, the irreparable damage has already been done.

    Many of us were in the Party before Nick Clegg et al were even born – my own children are older than he and many other Cabinet Members are.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 20th Mar '12 - 11:07am

    @ Rebekah,

    Clegg wants you to stop looking in the rear view mirror so that you won’t see what’s about to overtake you.

  • Some one asks “Why would the risk register be important? Anyone who has knowledge of the NHS and the proposals would know the risks anyway”.

    First, it cant be assumed that MPs who are voting on the Bill have both a knowledge of the NHS and the Bill’s proposals. The Bill is notoriously obscure, with over 1000 amendments and it is unlikely that many MPs have read it in any detail. (Even Nick Clegg has admitted not reading the Bill before it was tabled.) It is therefore unlikely that MPs will be able to work out the risks for themselves.

    Amongst those with both specialist knowledge of the N.H.S . and some understanding of the Bill there is considerable concern that the proposals will, among other things, will lead to:
    System failure because GPs lack relevant skills and adequate time;
    Threats to the financial stability and viability of Clinical Commissioning Groups;
    Increased costs (rather than savings) greatly exceeding those in the current system;
    A fixed budget for each person, with all further costs payable by the patient or their private health insurer. GPs will have to enforce this rationing and explain it to patients;
    Severe limits on collaboration between health care professionals (because competition law considers it “anti-competitive”);
    Organisational self-interest undermining the quality of care;
    Prioritisation of private patients causing increased waiting times for NHS patients.

    Surely it is important that before MPs vote on the future of the NHS they should know whether these concerns are formally reflected in a risk register and have been taken into account by the Government?

  • Paul Catherall 20th Mar '12 - 4:28pm

    I said last week, and it was confirmed in parleiment by Labour this afternoon, that Labour will repeal the Bill as soon as they come back into office, 2-3 years just isn’t enough time to disestablish one of the biggest organisations in the world. All this anguish is for nothing, the bill will be reppealed along with swathes of equally unpopular policy amongst the progressive electorate.

  • Oh I just give up with the party. We should just merge with the Conservatives as we already are in all but name now.

  • Andrew Thomas 20th Mar '12 - 10:36pm

    Its very sad. I think we may have condemned many superb Lib Dem councillors to defeat this year, just as we did in 2011 with the tuition fees issue. The Health Bill was a wonderful opportunity for our party to strike out the competition section and claim credit for saving the NHS. We have fallen short again. Its a very bad day.

  • “we eventually find the re-emergence of politicians such as Michael Heseltine, who was first elected to Parliament as a “National Liberal” in 1959”

    By 1959 National Liberal was in the same category as Co-operative candidates are today; used only for historical/traditional reasons.

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